Health Care Family Credit Union Logo

6 Times a Bargain is not a Bargain

Here’s when that steal of a deal is not such a bargain after all. 

1. When you don’t need it 

The price might be right. But, if the heavily marked-down item is one you don’t need, you’re just blowing money you could be using for savings or to purchase the stuff you actually do need. 

2. When it’s a faulty product

Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to be cheap. If an item is retailing at a ridiculously low price, hold it up to this checklist to determine its quality:

  • Where was it manufactured? If the product has a designer label, but also has a “Made in China” tag, you’re looking at a cheap knockoff that isn’t such a bargain after all.
  • Are there any noticeable defects or missing parts?
  • Does the item look worn out?
  • Is the material cheaply made?

3. When it’s going to go bad before you can use it 

Costco, we’re looking at you! Before buying in bulk to snag a great deal, be sure the food won’t go rancid or get stale before you can eat it. 

4. When the “sale price” is the highest the item has ever been sold for at this location 

Retailers sometimes feature an item’s price as a “sale price” when, in reality, the store has never sold it for more than the tagged amount. 

The store might be basing its sale price on an inflated Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). But, if the MSRP was artificially inflated to begin with, you’re not getting a bargain. 

Other times, the item will come with a pre-marked-down MSRP. The manufacturer’s label might read: “Original price: $49.99. Our price: $39.99.” Of course, the item was never sold at $49.99. If an item is really marked down, you’ll see another price tag slapped on top of the manufacturer’s label with the newer, lower price. 

5. When you need to mail in a rebate 

Rebates are a retailer’s best friend. Most of us are too lazy or forgetful to mail them in. We instead end up paying full price with the retailer getting the last laugh. Only pick up rebate items with an instant at-the-register rebate.

6. When it’s part of a liquidation sale 

Avoid liquidation sales. While shoppers sometimes snag great deals, they are riddled with rip-offs. Retailers post signs claiming “Everything Must Go!” – but that’s where the honesty ends. The “Rock Bottom Prices” they advertise are often as high as the original MSRP – or even higher. The store owners are depending on shoppers to assume that all items are bargain-priced just because they’re at a liquidation sale. Stay away from liquidation sales or proceed with extreme caution.